Little change from the current warm, dry period

By Peter Nelson

There has been little change from the long warm dry period during the past week and many places in our regions are now approaching one of their hottest March on record.

Nearly all of the continent are having warmer than normal days. Broome and Perth both have had hotter days this month than the previous three summer months.

Last weekend an active frontal system arrived bringing strong winds but very little or no rain. Ahead of this front temperatures were very high. Sydney recorded a temperature of 38.4 degrees on Sunday 18th March and this was the hottest day for late March since 1940.

Forbes recorded 40.3 last Sunday, the hottest for March also since 1940. Other hotter March days in Forbes were in 1938 and 1881. Some places along the NSW Coast recorded their hottest March day since 1983.

Some of Melbourne suburbs are having a very dry February -March period. Scoresby is approaching it's driest ever February - March period in 70 years of records. Cranbourne with only 9 mm to date is having it's driest February -March period since 1898.

Melbourne itself with only 4 mm to date looks set to break the 1870 record of only 8 mm. Tropical cyclone Marcus which brought heavy rain to the Top End is now moving west into the Indian Ocean and is not expected to influence our region.

A very strong high pressure system following the front is advancing towards Tasmania and will lead to another warm to hot spell in our region this week and this may extend into the first week of April.

There are encouraging signs of some welcome rains in our areas about the 25-26th March. Looking at those years , 1881, 1940 and 1983 mentioned above there were welcome heavy rains two to three weeks after the dates of the hottest March days recorded in Forbes and Sydney of those three years.

In addition Melbourne having it's driest February to March period since 1870 had a very wet April in 1870. Thus the second week of April is likely to have significant rainfall in our region. Both 1870 and 1983 saw excessive rains from April to January in Eastern Australia.